Despite the early August-like temperatures this week, days are noticeably shortening as fall approaches. Shorter day length is a trigger for many insects to begin searching for protected places to pass the winter, and for some insects, that can mean your home! The best method to deal with fall insect invaders is prevention: pest proofing your home to keep them out in the first place.
In Kentucky, we have a number of insects that may choose to move into homes for the winter including brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), multicolored Asian lady beetle, boxelder bug, western conifer seed bug, and cluster flies. Of these, brown marmorated stink bug is usually the first to search for protected places to spend the winter. Multicolor Asian lady beetle begins seeking refuges a month or more after the stink bug. Homes that have had a history of unwanted fall invaders should expect problems in the future.
Pest Proofing Tips
There are a number of steps to properly pest-proof your home, but the primary method is to exclude pests by sealing places through which they enter. Here are steps to reduce problems with fall insect invasions.
- Seal cracks around doors, windows, and dryer vents with caulk. Cracks as small as 1/8” will permit some insects to pass.
- Seal openings for pipes and wires in the foundation and siding with caulk, expandable foam for larger openings, or other suitable material.
- Check the seal under doors. While lying on the floor, look for light filtering underneath. Replace door sweeps and thresholds as needed.
- Replace torn or damaged window screens.
- Consider adding a chimney cap to exclude brown marmorated stink bug and other wildlife.
- Cover attic and roof vents with hardware cloth. We have found that openings in the cloth need to be 1/6 inch or smaller to exclude brown marmorated stink bug.
- Apply a barrier insecticide to the exterior of the home. Treat areas underneath and around doors, windows, utility openings, and around the base of the foundation. Read and follow all label directions.
Indoors during winter, BMSB try to congregate in various places inside structures. This can be in chimneys, closets, window air conditioning units, attics, behind books on a shelf, etc. Insecticides are not recommended inside the home to control pests after they have entered. The best way to remove them once inside is with a vacuum. A knee-high stocking can be used in the suction tube of the vacuum to reduce the number of bags needed. Once collected, just drop the stink bugs into soapy water. Various types of light-baited/funnel traps and soapy water traps have been used successfully to remove them from dark areas in a home.
By Ric Bessin, Extension Entomologist